Things Are Getting Better

This past year Tweedee Productions has done work at several manufacturing companies throughout Wisconsin.  We’ve crisscrossed our great state from Fennimore to Green Bay, Milwaukee to Rice Lake for various clients.  Most recently we shot at a plastics manufacturing plant in Baldwin.  The news that we’ve been hearing is that “things are getting better.”  Companies are hiring, working multiple shifts and cranking out products.  The owner of the plastics company told us that they have been working 24/7.  In some cases, employers cannot find enough qualified workers to fill the jobs they have.  Not a bad thing in the short-term.  Nationally, recent economic reports have been encouraging.

It’s been interesting commiserating with other business owners over the tough times we’ve all gone through.  Many have told us that 2008-09 were the bad years which was also true for us.  In some cases business virtually ground to a halt and many of us wondered if it was wise to keep the doors open.  In our case, I’m glad we did.

During what has been called the “great recession” the thought occurred to me that the companies that are able to weather the storm will be stronger in the end.  When operating in a bad economy, you learn real fast what works and what doesn’t.  You learn that all major decisions are critical and that there’s not much room for error.  Ultimately, you learn to have faith in your skills and that things will get better.

Fortunately for us, our business survived.  The lessons learned over the past few years have paid off.  The last two years have brought us great success as we’ve experienced sustained growth for the past 30 months.  We’re now able to do the things that I love to do like rewarding our employees and giving back to the community.  I realize that many folks have suffered, careers were lost and companies closed.  I’m grateful we have been able to continue on.  I feel the best is yet to come!

CEO/Founder, Tweedee Media Inc.

The cost of producing a website video

There is a very good article in the most recent issue of InBusiness Magazine about “The Online Video Phenomenon.”  The article does a nice job presenting the emergence of online video as a powerful marketing tool as well as providing businesses with some things to consider if they are thinking about creating video content for their website.

In this blog posting, I wanted to touch on one of the topics in the article where they discuss the cost of producing an on-line video:

“Overall, the cost of producing videos in high definition can range from $500 per finished minute to $3,000 and up per finished minute, depending on variables like talent, length of the shoot, and complexity of the editing.”

Obviously, that’s quite a broad range, and there are some production companies that provide a “one-size-fits-all” approach with fixed rates for production.  However, here at Tweedee productions, we estimate each project on an individual basis, because as we’ve quoted in previous blog postings:

“Paying for a produced video by the minute is like paying for a car by the pound.  There are just too many variables that make that equation unrealistic for most productions…”

So when we initiate a project with a client, we like to have a conversation with them to get a better idea about the scope of the project.  This allows us to figure out the time and resources we need to commit to that project and provide an accurate estimate.

Usually, a client will have a fairly good idea of how long they want their video to be.  But collaborating with our clients to establish a project outline and develop a budget is an important initial step because many factors aside from the length of the video (i.e. the need for music, graphics, voice over, etc.) can influence the cost of video production.  So getting these variables worked out in the planning and scripting phase will help ensure that everything runs smoothly as the production process moves forward.

We believe it benefits both parties to stay within the scope of any video project.  Our client gets the video they want and we stay within the scope of the project budget.

I hope you find the InBusiness article helpful too if you are considering online video for your company.

Thanks again,

Mac

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“So, how much will that cost?”

We get that question a lot!  Usually it comes after a brief, five-minute phone conversation with a third level office assistant charged with “getting a number” for his or her boss.  The caller typically has very limited information as to what production elements are needed for their video.  Yet, they expect us to spit out a number that we will have to live with moving forward.  At times I’m tempted to say, “Good news!  We have a web video special running today only.  For the low, low-cost of only $1995 you get the web video, a thirty-second TV commercial, and…”  These jobs usually do not go well.

Our business development guy, Mac Chorlton, recently sent me a link to a LinkedIn discussion about production rates for web videos.  It was interesting to read about how other companies deal with the tricky issue of asking someone to pay a fee for what we do.  After reading the string of comments, I concluded that others in our field have similar problems dealing with this issue.  Obviously, there is no easy, one size fits all, answer to this question.  However, it is reassuring that Tweedee Production’s rates and the way we charge for our time are in the “video production ballpark” as compared to other video production companies around the country.

When it comes to giving a client a ballpark number for producing a video, some providers use the “per finished minute” concept in pricing.  This number typically ranges between $1,000 and $1,500.  I don’t like pricing projects this way because there are way too many variables in what we might have to do to produce a successful video.  Jack Trammell of Dallas/Fort Worth contributes this brilliant observation on the LinkedIn discussion, “Paying for a produced video by the minute is like paying for a car by the pound.  There are just too many variables that make that equation unrealistic for most productions…”  A post by Scott Frangos reads, “Rates in Portland, Oregon range from $1500 per finished minute to $4500, depending on size of team, scope of concept, and production values.”  Quite a range!

Our approach here at Tweedee Productions is to ask a lot of questions.  So, before you pop the question on cost, have a good understanding of what you are trying to accomplish with your video.  Be specific, usually the “one size fits all” approach results in a watered down, ineffective, generic video.  Once we know what the intent is for your video we will prepare a detailed budget based on fairly standard market rates and pricing concepts.  We structure our pricing the same way that Rich Dubek’s company does in Phoenix, “We bill based on set rates for full day or 1/2 day, and hourly rates for logging, script writing, and editing.”

Most of the story-based, interview-driven web videos we produce are in the $5,000-9,000 range on average.  Again, even within this narrowly defined video category, there can be a number variables that will determine the ultimate cost.  So, if someone tells you after a five-minute phone call that they can do your video for $1995, ask yourself if you will be getting a video specific to your needs.  Lauri Oliva of Miami confirms what we all know, “I always refer back to the old adage, you get what you pay for.”

Producing a web video.

Gregg Schieve

The Value of Online Video

I read a recent study that showed 0% of internet users would be willing to pay to use Twitter.  I don’t use Twitter myself, but with all the talk out there about Twitter these days, I was quite surprised to see that even those who use it don’t really see any value in it.

Establishing value is an important tenet in any business so here are some simple valuation points for our business:  Website video and professional video production services

1)    Video combines sight, sound, motion, and emotion to provide the most optimum format of communication.

2)    Video is a great way to introduce yourself or explain a complex issue in understandable terms.  Given the choice, most folks would prefer to watch a two-minute video instead of slogging through pages of text on a website or PDF.

3)    Video provides  a great avenue to engage your prospective clients and stay on your website longer.  People search the web for information on products and services they want to buy.  Video allows you to present information about those products and services in a more accessible format.

4)    Better communication with your customers and clients leads to other benefits.  Product videos can help increase sales and online video has also been shown to reduce return rates for retailers by 60%.  If a customer can see the development of a product, its features, how it works, etc. before they buy it, then that decreases the potential for wanting to return the product once they actually purchase it.

5)    On-line video can be repurposed to use in sales presentations, trade shows & conferences, events, investor relations, television commercials, website pre-roll ads, in-store video, etc.

6)    Three out of four respondents reported watching some type of short, professionally produced videos online regularly (Online Media Daily, June 2010)

7)    You can share videos.  A true “Viral Video” is a rare phenomenon, but a video doesn’t have to go viral to be effective.  A recent video we produced about a new medical device is being distributed to a targeted audience of physicians and health care administrators.  Going viral would not necessarily benefit this particular company but showing the video to specific people with the means, the authority, and the need to purchase the device does provide a huge benefit.

8)    You can drive people to your website by sharing links to your video in your company newsletter, your press releases, and your Social Networking sites (including Twitter!!!).  The more places you post your video the more people you expose to your message.

9)    Mobile video continues to grow and will only get more popular as more and more people begin to use SmartPhones and other mobile devices like the iPad.

10)  Video is awesome!!!

Mac

i get all twittery just thinking about it…

do you tweet? tweedee tweets. we got on the twitter band wagon quite a while ago. it was part of our early social networking plans (along with blogging, facebook and our vnl). why? we wanted to be able to talk about and advise our clients when they asked about social networking or marketing trends. at first, i admit, it was a bit odd to just write short tidbits of info or re-tweet interesting things from people we follow, but now twitter has become something much more. we’re not the lone wolf any longer. over the past year more of our clients, potential clients & vendors began tweeting. twitter has become a great way for us to keep in touch and share. for example…. yesterday steve wrapped up a video for a client & sent them to our ftp

sandy thinks honesty is the best policy.

sandy is trying to stay trendy.

for review. they loved it (steve rocks) and immediately posted it to their web site – and they immediately tweeted about it! so, of course, once i noticed their tweet – i re-tweeted it. this helps them and us get exposure. and it lets our client know we are paying attention – passing on the love.
tweedee twitters 3-5 times per day. i usually schedule these tweets the night before or in the morning on hootsuite. then i check our twitter site a couple times a day to see if anyone is corresponding with us. so, in total, i probably spend 5 minutes a day updating twitter.

i guess i look at twitter like i look at all of our marketing tools: practice what you preach.  twitter is social, current, now… so if you have a twitter account use it.  i can’t suggest a client use twitter and then never update our own page.
granted, tweedee productions is not pam anderson or jet blue with thousands of followers, but we do have followers. so join in the fun – if you follow us, we’ll follow you!

OK! I talked me into it!

Well, I took the plunge.  I made the leap.  I threw all common sense to the wind and got a smart phone.  A SMART PHONE!  It makes me feel smart just to say the name – Droid Eris.  “Why yes, I have the Droid Eris.”  

But, will it make me smarter?  Will I work and live smarter?  It’s only A PHONE!  

I don’t need a smart phone.  In renewing our cell phone contract, I could have gotten a new, simple, easy to use cell phone.  But then, I don’t need an electric garage door opener either.  But it is sure nice to have when it’s pouring rain or the temperature is 20 below!  

So I talked myself into it.  Really, once I heard my arguments for getting one, I was convinced.  With more and more ways to watch video either on the internet or on mobile devices, I need to understand video delivery technology.  I need to understand what the buzz is all about.  After all, Tweedee Productions is in the video content production business.  I better know how all this stuff works.  

Mac Chorlton, our business development guy, has had a Blackberry for a couple of years now.  He understood the potential right away.  I remember the day he got it – he was all excited.  He explained how quickly and easily he could show someone one of our videos at a networking or sales event.  Image that you’re at a cocktail party and someone asks you what your company does.  You get that “why, I’m glad you asked me” smile on your face as you whip out your smart phone and play for them a short video that explains your product or service in three minutes or less.  Brilliant!  Instant emotional connection. 

Now, if I could only figure out what this button does…  

Gregg Schieve trying to figure out his new smart phone.

Photo-A-Day

I’ve created a monster.  OK, I knew what I was getting into, sort of.  I did it anyway.  What was I thinking?  It was supposed to be simple.  The good thing is, I’ve managed to keep it that way and to have fun.   

January 12, 2010

 It all started innocently enough.  I wanted a still camera that would take a decent picture, and that I could take with me where ever I went.  I love all the bells and whistles that come with my Nikon D300, but I wanted something simple without all of the complications of a big SLR system.  Simply put, I wanted more shooting, less thinking.  So, shortly after Christmas, I braved the post holiday, big-box store crowds and picked up a Sony Cyber-shot point and shoot camera.  My plan was to be ready to shoot at all times.  Simple= See + Shoot.  However, me being me, I was unable to leave well enough alone.  So I decided to complicate my plan.  On New Years Day 2010, I decided to shoot and post a daily photo on my Facebook page for the entire year.  365 photos.  Photo-A-Day was born.   

January 7, 2010

 As the New Year began I realized that Photo-A-Day would need rules.  None of this shooting-200-images-willy-nilly-until-I-got-the-right-shot approach.  I would be disciplined.  Using my trusty Cyber-shot, I would be limited to shooting a maximum of five images a day.  If I got my shot early, say in the first two images, I was done.  I would strive for an interesting photo, but not hike five miles into the woods to capture a great sunset.  In other words, I would keep my eyes open for a good shot in my day-to-day life.  The image would be posted on my Facebook page on the day it was shot with no explanation of the photo, simply the date it was taken.   

January 17, 2010

 Sounds simple, right?  Well, mostly.  The difficult part has been finding an interesting photo on a daily basis.  Sure, it was easy the last few days when I was vacationing in Florida.  But, on days like today when I’m stuck in the office, it is a bit more challenging.  Sometimes photo opportunities present themselves, other times I have to work at creating them.  Ultimately, I would like Photo-A-Day to help me keep my photographic vision sharp, to be aware of photographic moments, to enjoy photography, and, best of all, to always be ready to experiment and be spontaneous in my approach.  Snap.  As of this writing, only 347 more photos to go.   

Gregg Schieve

Turkey Testicles Go Viral

Tweedee Productions is currently riding one of those YouTube viral video phenomenons that you hear about.  By the time this blog entry is posted, we will probably crack the 1,000,000-view mark of a story about people eating a most unusual part of the traditional Thanksgiving bird.

It all started innocently enough back in the fall of 2008.  We assigned Sandy Kowal and our good friend Carrie Cokins to do a simple little story about the annual Turkey Testicle Festival (see video below) in the great city of Huntley, Illinois.  That’s right, a festival celebrating the eating of turkey testicles!  Deep fried.  Dippin’ sauce.  Tastes like chicken.  After much fun and frivolity, the story was put together and posted on Tweedee’s YouTube channel where it has lived in relative obscurity (by YouTube standards), generating only about 1,500 views throughout the year.

This fall, things changed.  It started with the organizers of the event asking for permission to post our testicle eating story on their web site.  At the time we thought any exposure was good exposure, right?  Besides, it would be nice if a few more people saw one of our videos, right?  Within a few days we started to notice a slight increase in the trickle of views.  A couple of mouse clicks later and that trickle turned into a flood.

As Thanksgiving 2009 approached and viewership continued to grow, we were amazed at the numbers we where getting.  In a matter of a few days we went from 3,000 to more than 150,000 views!  Over the long Thanksgiving weekend we surpassed 700,000 views.  It kept growing – 880,000 on December 4th – and growing – 950,000 on December 7th – AND GROWING!  Just when we thought that viewership would trail off, wham, another 20,000 views!

Up until now, in the vast video wilderness known as YouTube, we had never received more than a few thousand views for any of our videos .  So, naturally getting 1,000,000 views for any video let alone one about a testicle eating festival made us happy.  In YouTube numbers, however, it’s a drop in the digital bucket.  There are millions of videos on YouTube and millions of video producers trying to be the next big thing.  So why have viewers flocked to our video?  What has attracted viewers and, more importantly, kept them watching, prompting them to spread the video virally?  Apart from the rather unusual subject matter, it tells a story pure and simple.  It pulls you in, explains an event and leaves you with a good taste in your mouth (pardon the pun).  Simple is better.

Watch our video and share it with a friend – it’s the viral thing to do.

-GS

The Blog Police

When you read a blog post with a glowing review about a certain product or service, do you ever wonder if the blogger who posted that was getting paid by someone to provide that glowing review?  Well, that problem has actually become an epidemic on the web and it’s gotten so bad that the federal government has stepped in to provide some oversight.  When you’re on-line, it’s often very difficult to determine if the content (blogs, customer reviews, etc.) you are seeing is a paid endorsement or an independent review.  So the FTC recently announced that bloggers who receive compensation must disclose any payments they have received from the subjects of their reviews or face penalties.  The changes are aimed at de-blurring the line between editorial and advertising on blogs, social media sites (like Facebook and Twitter), etc.

A study by Nielsen Online showed 78 percent of online users view recommendations from other consumers as trustworthy so the concept of policing pay-for-play bloggers sounds like a good idea.  But  the devil is in the details and this new regulation could create a myriad of problems.  For example, in previous blog posts, I’ve talked about videos we’ve produced for several different companies who have paid us to produce those videos.  But I’ve also referenced other videos that we have not produced.  So would future posts like that put me in jeopardy of being fined by the FTC if I don’t make that paid-or-not-paid distinction for every video I reference?  You can probably see how this problem would translate to any company, group, or organization that provides a blog or editorial content on social media sites.

As a production company, we are always creating videos that help a business or organization tell their story, connect with their customers or members, and market their services or sell their products.  In a previous Tweedee blog post, my colleague Steve Donovan provided links to six different videos to show further examples of what he was talking about that week.  Those videos were a collection of movie trailers and other videos that Steve produced himself.  So if Steve or I mention videos or provide links to videos in a blog posting to enhance our message, do we really need to distinguish for each and every one whether or not we were paid to produced that content?

It has been 30 years since the FTC revised its policy on endorsements so this new regulation is probably long overdue since these types of pay-for-play endorsements have become a rampant force in the internet world for shaping consumer decisions.  Of course, this new regulation will be very hard to enforce due to the overwhelming number of blogs, podcasts, social media outlets, etc. out there on the World Wide Web and we could have a Pandora’s Box on our hands.  It seems to make sense that a blogger should not be able to promote themselves as an independent reviewer providing their opinion as opposed to what they really are:  A paid spokesperson.  So this new ruling will hopefully provide some transparency among these pay-for-play folks.  But once again, monitoring and enforcing these new regulations seem like a real nightmare.

mac@tweedeeproductions.com

Glee!

Have you heard of the Fox show Glee?  It’s my new favorite!  Sure, it’s cheesy, what with the singing and dancing and earnestness of the characters.  But it is also entertaining, funny, and heartfelt.

I’ve told several people in the past week about this show.  And I’ve said pretty much what I just wrote.  Glee offers an hour of escape from reality TV, crime procedurals, and the news.  It is an example of successful counter-programming.  As cited on Wikipedia, “Mary McNamara for the Los Angeles Times wrote that the show had a wide audience appeal, calling it: ‘the first show in a long time that’s just plain full-throttle, no-guilty-pleasure-rationalizations-necessary fun’.”

Glee doesn’t rely just on the quality of the show.  When the pilot aired after American Idol, people on social media sites spread the word. “Glee was the top ranked topic on social networking site Twitter on the night of its initial airing.”  And there is an official Facebook page where behind-the-scenes videos and photos are posted as well as sneak peeks of upcoming episodes.  On the official Fox site, you can watch full episodes and “Behind the Glee” videos about each episode.

So even a big company like Fox, with deep pockets, uses social media and online videos in addition to broadcast television to market its products.  All these marketing outlets can be a lot to keep up with, but there are products, like Shoutlet, that make keeping up easy.  Tweedee Productions recently used Shoutlet and StreamPilot to help us get the word out about our latest sitcom newsletter.  Check it out!

Glee is so funny!

Glee is so funny!